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Published at 13th of October 2023 05:21:42 AM


Chapter 7

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Shen Qingzhi returned to the guest room, tightly embracing the pillow she had just snatched from the neighboring room, and quickly felt her nerves relax.

This pillow had been used by the room's owner for some time, yet its surface remained remarkably clean, still carrying the delicate fragrance of silk gardenia.

Though it was a bit on the higher side, it was sufficiently soft, fitting snugly in her arms.

Shen Qingzhi curled up on the bed, hugging the pillow tightly with all her limbs, finally fulfilling her long-awaited meeting with Duke Zhou, just as she had wished.

Of course, she had tried to make do with the pillows in the guest room before, but it didn't have the same effect.

As expected, things had to be snatched by oneself to truly work.

That night, Shen Qingzhi had a dream. In the dream, she found herself in a thicket of bushes surrounded by blooming gardenias.

It seemed as though it had just rained here, as the emerald green petals still glistened with sparkling dew.

The fragrance of the flowers blended with the moisture from the rain, enticing her to venture further.

The deeper she went, the taller the flowers grew, surpassing the usual limits she knew, until they completely enveloped her within a sea of blossoms.

The pure white petals caressed her cheeks, inexplicably gentle, evoking a sense of longing.

Shen Qingzhi tilted her face upward, hoping to get closer.

But the flowers began to rapidly retreat, and as she reached out her hand to grasp them, she realized she couldn't touch anything tangible.

She could only watch helplessly as they vanished, leaving behind a bare patch of land.

The sun rose, casting a warm golden glow.

Shen Qingzhi opened her eyes, greeted by a blurry light, momentarily struggling to distinguish between dream and reality.

She lay silently in bed for three minutes until her phone's ringtone interrupted her, reminding her of her current situation.

After silencing the phone, she got up and, wearing her bunny slippers, made her way to the bathroom.

On the bathroom countertop, there was a brand new toothbrush. Shen Qingzhi only hesitated for a second before readily proceeding with her morning routine.

After quickly tidying herself up, she glanced at the bathroom cabinet. A collection of bottles and jars were arranged meticulously, perfectly symmetrical.

With a poker face, she began rearranging these items, swapping their positions.

Soon, a new layout emerged, with varying heights and an artful disarray.

Shen Qingzhi admired her handiwork, happily whistling before turning around and leaving.

But just a few steps out, her stomach protested with a rumbling sound.

In Shen Qingzhi's dictionary, there was no concept of "neglecting oneself." She paid no mind to being in someone else's home at the moment and marched straight to the kitchen.

In front of the partially open kitchen countertop, there was already a figure busy at work.

Shen Qingzhi had noticed yesterday, upon arriving, that the kitchen was the liveliest spot in the house.

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Not only was the decoration more refined than in the other rooms, but the traces of various appliances and seasonings were also evident.

It didn't resemble the other rooms, which felt more like showrooms.

Gu Jinrong noticed Shen Qingzhi's arrival, her stirring motion uninterrupted. When she looked up, the smile on her lips seemed to carry a subtle hook.

"Qingqing, you're here. Have a seat for a moment. Breakfast will be ready soon."

Well, since yesterday's "marriage agreement" explicitly stated that she couldn't be called "wife," Shen Qingzhi waited for a while with "dear" and "baby" among the unconventional terms of address, she chose the usual in the end.

Shen Qingzhi had originally planned to come over for a free meal, so she had no intention of pretending to be polite.

She sat at the dining table contentedly, watching Gu Jinrong busy herself.

The woman in front of the countertop had changed into a light blue casual attire. She meticulously tied her apron in the same color scheme, and her thick black hair was elegantly twisted into a simple bun, giving her a refreshing look.

Her slender and delicate fingers were tinkering with a transparent glass, which didn't seem like she was preparing breakfast but rather engaging in handicrafts.

A wisp of cooking smoke wafted from the nearby iron pot, but from this angle, it was difficult to see what was being cooked inside.

As Shen Qingzhi continued to watch, her hunger intensified.

She quietly swallowed her saliva and walked into the kitchen, feigning politeness. "Um, is there anything I can help with?"

As Shen Qingzhi spoke, her eyes sneakily glanced towards the pot.

When Gu Jinrong mentioned during their blind date that she could prepare over a hundred different dishes, Shen Qingzhi thought she was bragging. But now, judging by the situation, maybe it was true?

Sensing Shen Qingzhi's curiosity, Gu Jinrong's smile deepened at the corner of her mouth, remaining focused.

"It's enough for you to rest, let me show off."

That sentence stopped Shen Qingzhi in her tracks.

She still couldn't see what was inside the pot, but in Gu Jinrong's gaze, she felt a sense of annoyance as she turned around: Hmph, can't recognize good people!

"Wait a moment."

In an instant, as soon as Shen Qingzhi heard those words, she swiftly turned her head back, only to see Gu Jinrong casting a gentle smile towards the still-smoking iron pot.

"I just remembered, there is indeed something here that I need your help with." 

Shen Qingzhi quickly turned back, rolling up her pajama sleeves and standing in front of the iron pot, ready to indulge herself.

"What is it? Tell me." 

Gu Jinrong handed her a pair of chopsticks. "Could you please help me flip the potstickers in the pot? Flip them approximately every fifteen seconds to avoid burning them."

Shen Qingzhi:...

Is that it?

She looked at the golden-brown potstickers in the pot, and her craving grew even stronger.

"Well, I think these should be cooked already. We can take them out of the pot."

Gu Jinrong, holding a glass in one hand and chopsticks in the other, patiently explained, "They still need a bit more frying time. I added some broth to the pot, and it hasn't all evaporated yet."

"If you're feeling hungry, you can taste the salad I made." 

Shen Qingzhi felt a bit annoyed at being seen through so easily. "Who... who said I'm hungry? I'm just... just concerned about your cooking skills, that's why I reminded you to flip them!"

She snatched the chopsticks from Gu Jinrong's hand and skillfully managed the food in the pot, doing a decent job.

Perhaps her pride was hurt a moment ago, but Shen Qingzhi was now quiet.

The kitchen was filled with wisps of smoke as the two figures stood close together, fully focused on their respective tasks, creating an atmosphere of tranquility.

Gu Jinrong played with the salad in her hand, observing Shen Qingzhi's irritated yet earnest expression, a smile forming at the corners of her eyes.

So obedient.

A breakfast with a combination of colors, fragrance, and flavors was completed through the collaboration of two individuals.

Mixed salad, pan-fried dumplings, and a pudding cheesecake were all Shen Qingzhi's favorite foods.

Gu Jinrong noticed that Shen Qingzhi's gaze lingered on the pan-fried dumplings the longest, so she used a public chopstick to pick one and put it in a bowl in front of her.

"Qingqing, come and taste the fruits of your labor."

Shen Qingzhi, who had initially maintained an air of aloofness, visibly brightened upon hearing these words.

Although she had come with the intention of mooching a meal, she couldn't help but feel slightly awkward when faced with the person in front of her.

A meal is a trivial matter, but people's appetites are important.

Ever since meeting Gu Jinrong again, Shen Qingzhi had been holding back her strength, constantly competing with the other, afraid of losing face.

Now that there was an opportunity, she smoothly picked up a pan-fried dumpling and emphasized her point.

"Well, it's been a while since I've been in the kitchen, but it seems my skills are still intact."

"You should eat too, no need to be polite."

After saying that, she took a big bite. The pan-fried dumpling was crispy on the outside and filled with a delicious mixture of broth, making it so tasty that it could bring tears to one's eyes.

While Shen Qingzhi chewed quickly, she felt a sense of awe in her heart.

To be able to make something so delicious in less than two minutes of flipping the chopsticks, I truly am a genius!

Seeing Shen Qingzhi enjoying her food, Gu Jinrong pushed a cup of salad towards her.

"Don't just eat one thing, have some salad to moisten your throat."

Shen Qingzhi's gaze followed the movement of the slender hand pushing the salad cup, and she noticed that there were two cups of salad, evenly divided along the centerline of the table.

Even the fruits and vegetables arranged inside were all in pairs, as if they had been copied and pasted from left to right.

Heh, this OCD hasn't changed one bit.

Shen Qingzhi chuckled in her heart and had a mischievous idea.

She picked up a strawberry from the cup and swallowed it, then took out half of the remaining fruits and vegetables and placed them in the bowl as decorations.

Suddenly, the originally symmetrical layout of the salad became highly asymmetrical.

But she still wasn't satisfied with just that, so she took her fork and stirred the salad.

With a few swift movements, the mixed salad turned into a mess.

While doing all this, Shen Qingzhi couldn't help but notice Gu Jinrong's eyelids twitching a few times.

The reaction wasn't too obvious, but she caught it.

Gu Jinrong, who usually appeared flawless, was actually a symmetry fanatic with OCD tendencies.

She had indeed concealed it well in her daily life, but after spending a long time together, one could always notice some clues.

Shen Qingzhi discovered this about Gu Jinrong unintentionally, after a month of being in close proximity back then. At that time, she found these little habits quite adorable. But now, hmph, it's perfect for striking back and seeking revenge.

Shen Qingzhi felt a secret pleasure in her heart as she continued to mix the salad with her hands.

Whether it was a psychological effect or not, every time she made the salad in the cup more chaotic, Gu Jinrong's expression became more serious.

Finally, after she had turned the salad into a mush, she casually took a sip as if nothing had happened and said contentedly, 

"The taste is not bad. This is a new eating method I've come up with, which allows the flavors of the ingredients to blend better. I recommend giving it a try."

She explained a random prank with such a convincing manner that she almost believed it herself.

Seeing Shen Qingzhi finishing half a cup of salad, Gu Jinrong's originally serious expression softened slightly.

"As long as Qingqing likes it."

Shen Qingzhi: ?

Boring.

It has to be said that after not seeing each other for several years, this person's temperament seems to have become more composed, or rather, more skilled at pretending.

Back then, Gu Jinrong would usually have a gentle and warm demeanor.

But as soon as she made something asymmetrical, Gu Jinrong would immediately turn cold and remain silent, stewing in her own frustration.

Her OCD was outrageously severe.

Shen Qingzhi's mischievous prank, which had initially excited her, now felt like punching into thin air.

The more Gu Jinrong didn't pay attention to her, the more Shen Qingzhi felt childish.

In fact, hasn't she always been seen as somewhat childish in that person's eyes?

She lost interest and quietly dealt with the food in front of her, bowing her head.

The atmosphere became quiet for a while, only the occasional sound of utensils clinking.

"Qingqing, about us getting married, when do you think we should go home together and tell my mother?"

With one sentence, Gu Jinrong brought Shen Qingzhi back from her daydreaming.

"W-What... Your parents are overseas, aren't they?"

As soon as Shen Qingzhi finished speaking, she felt a sense of unease in her heart.

Sure enough, the next moment, she saw Gu Jinrong's eyes and eyebrows filled with joy. "It turns out Qingqing cares about my affairs that much."

Author's Note:

Random red envelopes 50.



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